Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Was Wrong

(Also known as: Sabbath, revisited)

Shabbat isn't about beginning my week well-rested. Shabbat isn't about slowing down my life. Shabbat isn't about having "me" time.

Simply put, Shabbat isn't about me.

Shabbat is about Him.

"...there is something, in the Jewish Sabbath that is absent from most Christian Sundays: a true cessation from the rhythms of work and world, a time wholly set apart, and, perhaps above all, a sense that the point of Shabbat, the orientation of Shabbat, is toward God.

Pick up any glossy women's magazine from the last few years and you'll see what I mean. The Sabbath has come back into fashion, even among the most secular Americans, but the Sabbath we now embrace is a curious one. Articles abound extolling the virtues of treating yourself to a day of rest, a relaxing and leisurely visit to the spa, an extra-long bubble bath, and a glass of chardonnay. Take a day off, the magazines urge their harried readers. Rest.

There might be something to celebrate in this revival of Sabbath, but it seems to me that there are at least two flaws in the reasoning. First is what we might call capitalism's justification for Sabbath rest: resting one day a week makes you more productive during the other six. Or, as my father has often told me, I'll get more done working eleven months a year than twelve. And while that may be true, rest for the sake of future productivity is at odds with the spirit of Shabbat.

We could call the second problem with the current Sabbath vogue the fallacy of the direct object. Whom is the contemporary Sabbath designed to honor? Whom does it benefit? Why, the bubble-bath taker herself, of course! The Bible suggests something different. In observing the Sabbath, one is both giving a gift to God and imitating Him. Exodus and Deuteronomy make this clear when they say, 'Six days shall you labor and do all your work to the Lord your God.' To the Lord your God." (Excerpt from Mudhouse Sabbath by http://www.laurenwinner.net/index.html )

Shabbat isn't about me.

If it were, I would give up as soon as I "felt rested".

Life isn't about me.

If it were, I would have given up on this weary journey long ago.

Shabbat is about Him.

Life is about Him.

It's all about Him.

1 comment:

  1. Amen. You are an amazing sister and I will be glad to have you home in a few days!

    ReplyDelete

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